– Ching-Yee, Sprogs
My name is Ching-Yee and I founded Sprogs. We make a fresh snack called Rice Scooters. Our mission and vision is to help people to have an alternative to the shelf-stable, dry, heavily processed, sugary-sweet things that we all frequently snack on, and instead put real, fresh savory food into a fun, portable and convenient package. I started this about 3 years ago and we’ve been in market for two years. It’s been an incredibly humbling experience, and quite a roller coaster ride!
I would say that there are two driving emotions with a new business. I don’t know whether to call it fear or frustration on one end because you’re constantly facing chicken and egg scenarios. “I would make money if I had a machine to make me more profitable but I need money to buy the machine and I don’t have that money.” It’s non-stop. On the high end I have felt so much gratitude for customers and partners who have been incredibly supportive and generous. Kiva falls into that bucket!
I didn’t know about Kiva until about 6 months ago. I got a check in the mail from Bi-Rite Market (one of the local stores that sells Sprogs) and inside the envelope was a slip of paper with a cute little photo that said “We’ve helped our producers raise 0% interest financing on Kiva- check it out!” I spend most of my time in the kitchen so I didn’t check it out for a couple of months, but when I finally did check it out I was like “is this for real?”
We’ve been approached by a lot of people to apply for financing or investors but there’s always a catch, example requiring lots of personal collateral. I’ve put so much of my blood, sweat, tears and personal money into it that there’s no more I can offer. So Kiva made me think: “Holy Cow! I should do it! There’s no reason not to do it."
At the very least, I figured Kiva would provide an easy way to organize friends and family who don’t want to make big investments but would be willing to drop a few pennies in a bucket for me. It turned out to be so much more. I was shocked and thrilled and so grateful that there were strangers- people I’d never met or talked to or wouldn’t know me from Adam - who made a loan.
It’s funny, because running my own business has been the scariest, most exhausting, humbling thing I’ve ever done in my life, (even including parenting). But it’s also given me - not to sound cheesy, sorry- a lot of hope in humanity because on a daily basis we bump into so much good will and generosity in the world that I didn't even know existed when I had an easier life. The process itself was incredible easy, so for anyone who’s considering doing it, I say – “Do it! Don’t wait!”
Kiva U.S. Stories is a space to share and enjoy the moving, the funny, the inspiring, stories that come from every corner of the Kiva U.S. community.